According to John Bob Siemienowicz, governor of Rotary District 7870, covering 57 Rotary clubs in southern New Hampshire and Vermont, the district has reached $150,000 in funds raised for Ukrainian relief. This represents a $36,000 increase in funds raised in two weeks. Siemienowicz indicated that he expects donations to increase as more of the clubs have a chance to assess their fundraising efforts.
As a result of the latest surge in fund-raising, the district has been able to underwrite several important medical advances for Ukrainian refugees and the homeless due to the devastation created by Russian bombardment.
Known in Poland as “Hospice of the Little Prince,” funds raised by the district and sent to the Lublin-Centrum Rotary Club have been used to purchase equipment and to treat Ukrainian children with cancer and multiple sclerosis. Mateo Karczmarczuk of the Lublin-Centrum Rotary club, located close to the Polish-Ukraine border, said funds raised by District 7870 purchased much-needed equipment and medicines for 16 sick Ukrainian children. This donation was also used to house the parents of these children, all of whom were displaced by the Russian forces attacking the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine.
Karczmarczuk added the following observation: “During the wartime, the situation is horrible.” He noted that refugee parents were much more prone to suffer from the horrors of the war than their children, indicating that it was not uncommon to see a child comforting a parent.
In describing the conditions facing Ukrainian refugees, Karczmarczuk said, “The loss of home in Ukraine, serious illness, 50 hours of waiting at the border, the stress that paralyzes everyone, and the lack of space in Polish hospitals” has made this an incredibly difficult time for refugees.
Other activities that district funds enabled Polish Rotarians to create include — but are not limited to:
Setting up a reception center for refugees offering temporary accommodations, meals, and medical treatment
Working with the International Police Association in Poland, creating a field hospital for wounded Ukrainian soldiers
Creating a special reception area for blind Ukrainian children
Perhaps the most enlightening observation of the difficulties facing both Ukrainians and those seeking to help them was made by an anonymous surgeon in Cherkasy in central Ukraine as he described what it was like to work during the crisis. “During the last 12 hours, three time bomb alerts were announced, four Russian missiles were shot down by our air defenses, and the wreckage fell into the yards of nearby residential areas”. He added that they were short of physicians, staff, and medicine.
Efforts by district Rotarians have been directed at providing medical supplies for Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, food for Odessa, and the care of refugees in Czestochowa, Poland.
The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International has received more than $7.3 million in contributions to support relief efforts of its many district clubs. It has awarded grants in excess of a million dollars to assist those affected by the war in Ukraine.